(N.Morgan) A cargo ship carrying Iranian made long range missiles was captured in route to the Sudan in a very daring open sea operation, in which the navy elite vessel was raided. Israel seized an Iranian ship carrying advanced weapons destined for Gaza on Tuesday night and towed it to Eilat port, the IDF said Wednesday. Elite troops from the Israel Navy’s Shayetet 13 unit boarded the ship in open waters on the maritime
border of Sudan and Eritrea, some 1,500 km south of Israel.
The Iranian cargo ship carrying arms for Gaza left port ten days ago and was on track to dock in Sudan on Thursday. The 17 crew members on board – representing a variety of nationalities – are being investigated for their involvement in the attempted smuggling operation. Their questioning is expected to continue in Israel. The ship was supposed to reach port in Sudan on Thursday, some 10 days after it left Iran. An initial inventory by Israel revealed a large supply of rockets, including the Iranian-made 302m, which hit Haifa during the 2006 Second Lebanon War.
The rockets originated in Syria, the IDF said, where Iran is known to store large arsenals. The rockets were flown from Syria to Iran, where they were loaded on the ship that then departed for Iraq where the arms concealed in boxes of cement. From the Iraqi port of Umm Qasr it sailed into the Red Sea around the Port of Oman, bound for Sudan. The ship’s progress was closely tracked by the IDF as it sailed. “There is clear evidence from the ship that these are rockets for which Iran is responsible,” a senior IDF source said Wednesday. “The rockets were, intended for terror groups in Gaza.” The interception operation was conducted under the real-time supervision of IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, both of whom were present at an IDF command center.